Rapid technological progress has shaped modern childhood. Time spent with digital devices has increased dramatically since the start of our twenty-first century and is now a large portion of a child’s free time.
Children aged 8–12, for example, spend an average of 4–6 h with a screen each day watching videos, gaming and socializing.
In a recently published study, researchers evaluated the impact of screen time on intelligence, including the ability to learn effectively, think rationally, understand complex ideas, and adapt to new situations. The study appears in the journal Scientific Reports.
The study included a total of 9,855 children from the USA who were part of the ABCD dataset with measures of intelligence at baseline (9-10 years) and after 2 years.
Playing Video Games Increase IQ
The researchers study how children’s performance on the tests varied from one testing session to the other and also controlled for genetic differences that could affect intelligence and be related to the parent’s educational background and income.
According to the study, children spent 2.5 hours a day watching TV, half an hour on social media, and 1-hour playing video games. They found that those children that played more games had an increased intelligence between 2 measurements by approximately 2.5 IQ points more than the rest.
The team also saw no significant effect, positive or negative, of watching TV or using social media. Their results are consistent with the cognitive benefits documented in previous experimental studies on video gaming.
Sauce, B., Liebherr, M., Judd, N. et al. The impact of digital media on children’s intelligence while controlling for genetic differences in cognition and socioeconomic background. Sci Rep 12, 7720 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-11341-2